The situation is clear: we need to open our eyes, to wake up to the atrocities taking place, and fight back against the cruelty. Wild at Heart Foundation had made it’s mission to support organisations on the ground who are fighting to end the systematic suffering of street dogs in Lebanon, we worked alongside local rescuers and ethical organisations to educate, sterilise and rescue.
We were committed to implementing a long-term, dedicated campaign to combat the atrocities taking place in the country. Our plans included:
In 2o18, Wild at Heart Foundation began working in Lebanon when we were alerted to the plight of Maggie and Solo, two Lebanese street dogs who had been subject to atrocious violence and human cruelty. Maggie (then Angie) had been shot at close range multiple times and had pellets embedded in her skull and shoulders. Her ear had been cut off, and the brutal attack left her blind in both eyes.
Solo (was Romeo) had also been shot in the eye at close range and left for dead. It is only thanks to local rescuers that he was picked up and taken to a safe shelter where he was given the chance to fight for his life.
When we were contacted by Roxana, an independent rescuer who made us aware of the problem, we were only too happy to step in and help raise the funds necessary to treat these poor souls and fly them home to a new life here in the UK.
Despite the horrific injuries both these dogs had suffered, they have gone on to become the most loving, loyal and inspiring pets. They demonstrate resilience and forgiveness in their every day, and they prove that all dogs – no matter how unfortunate their start in life may be, no matter how “damaged” they may appear – are capable of boundless love. They teach us that, in spite of everything, love is blind.
In early 2019, Roxana reached out to us once again about a handful of dogs that she’d seen on her most recent visit to Beirut. All of them had sustained horrendous injuries, and deserved a second chance to have their faith and loyalty in humans repaid with love, kindness and care.
Some had needed amputations in order to keep them alive. Others were shot or blinded just like Maggie and Solo. And yet each of these inspiring dogs radiated nothing but love, joy and forgiveness.
In 2019, we successfully rehomed 4 of the 6 (Trinity, Bella, Street & Jenny), and are looking forward to bringing Jasmine and Elko over to the UK in the new year when the necessary blood tests and paperwork have been approved.
In September 2019, we returned to Lebanon with a team of volunteers, this time on a wider fact-finding mission to assess the situation in person, hear from local rescuers and organisations, and assess how best Wild at Heart Foundation could support the work on the ground.
We were deeply affected by what we discovered. Horrified and inspired in equal measure, we took in some of the worst sights and stories that we’ve ever experienced in our years of dog rescue. Thanks to the hospitality of a handful of shelters and organisations, we were able to tour Beirut and the surrounding area and learn more about the situation local rescuers are dealing with.
Thanks to the incredible work of these local charities, inroads are starting to be made to combat the treatment of dogs in urgent need. But it’s a long journey ahead. We spoke to many about the frustration they feel: lack of government funding or sanctions; general ignorance and irresponsibility surrounding dog ownership and treatment; and a lack of engagement from communities when a shared vision could propel this campaign forward.
We are so grateful to all the organisations we met with, and are looking forward to working with them more closely in the coming years, providing funding, operational support, and a willing market of UK-based adopters to help clear space in their already overflowing shelters.
A huge thank you to our partners Milo, BETA, Give Me A Paw, & Mount Lebanon for providing us with so much invaluable insight and information.
Our work in Lebanon is only just beginning. We are committed to implementing a long-term, dedicated campaign to combat the atrocities taking place in the country, to creating lasting and meaningful change.
Thanks to donations raised throughout the course of our 2019 “Love is Blind” campaign, we will be returning to the country in 2020 to implement a strategic support plan, working alongside a handful of partners to carry out longer term initiatives that get to the route of the problem.
Sterilisation: we’ll trial sterilisation clinics in rural areas where uncontrolled breeding is rife, monitoring the effects this has on both local street dog numbers and also local attitude.
Education: we’ll work with partners on the ground to devise an education plan that will target both adults (specifically parents) and children, with an urgent focus on respectful treatment of animals.
Rescue: we continue to invest in rescue for those dogs who have experienced significant trauma, especially those who would be dismissed as “unsaveable” by many mainstream rescue routes. If Maggie has taught us anything, it is that every dog deserves a chance at happiness, no matter how damaged they may look. So far, we have funded the treatment and surgery of a number of handicapped dogs, including specialist surgery for Bella.
Rehoming: 2019 saw us fly 4 further dogs out of Lebanon and into adoptive homes. Early 2020 will hail the arrival of a further 5, and we will continue to explore methods of making the Lebanon > UK rehoming model as cost-effective (and therefore a viable mainstream option for more adopters).
If a regular donation towards a specific project is set up and we subsequently cease to provide support in the future, any recurring donations will be allocated to the areas of our other work requiring the most support.